With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, some parts of the home can easily go unnoticed. You might forget the dirty laundry sitting in the hamper or the container of leftovers stuck in the back of the refrigerator a few days too long. Many of these forgotten things can stay forgotten without much harm, but sometimes ignoring a part of your home is the worst choice you can make. For example, forgetting about your air ducts – a hidden track inside every wall of your house – can have serious consequences.
Air ducts collect all sorts of debris as it circulates air throughout the house. Generally, most of this debris consists of basic dust that is essentially harmless if it becomes airborne. In large quantities, this could pose a threat, but unless you see plumes of dust escaping the air registers, it is a safe amount. Other more dangerous things can lurk in the debris gathered in your air ducts, however. The most common and potentially most hazardous is mold according to the New York Department of Health.
Mold tends to grow in areas with a surplus of moisture and organic matter. For example, when you run your central air conditioning, the water in the air will condense on the cool duct panels. This creates pools of moisture, which generally evaporate back into the air when the system shuts off. Conversely, if the humidity in the house is especially high, the small pockets of water will remain pooled in the air ducts. This takes care of the moisture mold needs to grow.
The organic material essentially acts as a source of food for the mold, so it must also be present for the mold to grow. Unfortunately, this is present in any home. Organic material includes anything from dead skin cells to pieces of hair, shreds of paper, and microscopic plant matter. In any lived-in home, all of these materials float unseen through the air. Therefore, it will float through your air ducts and settle in the pools of moisture once the system turns off.
Now that the mold has a perfect place to grow, it will begin to cause damage to your health. Mold can cause allergies and asthma as the dead and living spores in the air are inhaled. Signs of these reactions include nasal congestion, eye irritation, wheezing, coughing, sore throat and headache. Although rare, mold can also create infections and have toxic effects, which can be very dangerous.
Even the less dangerous mold is a cause for concern and health experts recommend having it removed as soon as possible. Cleaning visible mold is generally not enough, because mold spreads quickly into unseen places like air ducts. Instead, opt to consult with a professional air duct cleaning service to clean your ducts. If you live in Northern California, call White Glove Chimney & Air Duct for an expert consultation.